Cape Town - Despite posting a mammoth 216/5 with the bat, the Dolphins lost their CSA T20 Challenge clash against the Warriors at Buffalo Park in East London on Wednesday by seven wickets, dropping them to fifth place on the log with just one round robin clash left.
A match-high second wicket partnership of 145 between Morne van Wyk and Kevin Pietersen paved the way for the Dolphins surge past the 200-run mark and set the Warriors a mammoth target.
A memorable innings of 107* off just 58 balls by Warriors opening batsman Jon-Jon Smuts however saw the Eastern Cape hosts to victory with six balls to spare.
Needing to score at nearly eleven runs to the offer from the get-go, the Warriors chase was immediately halted by Mthokozisi Shezi’s removal of Smuts’ opening partner, Clyde Fortuin in the opening over.
Partnered by the vastly experienced Colin Ingram (55 off 26 balls), Smuts went about his business in his usual belligerent manner though, blazing the Dolphins bowlers to all parts of the ground.
The fall of Ingram, LBW to Imran Tahir, followed by the removal of Colin Ackermann by Shezi soon afterwards gave the visitors some renewed hope however Christiaan Jonker’s cameo innings of 36 off 20 balls put the result beyond doubt once more.
Earlier in the day, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, the early demise of Dolphins opener Cameron Delport (5) was soon papered over as Van Wyk and Pietersen both played innings to remember.
Van Wyk’s 77 off 52 balls included no fewer than twelve boundaries while Pietersen’s rich vein of form continued as he powered his way to 81 off 46 balls, with four boundaries and six sixes.
A powerful 22 off just nine balls (4x4, 1x6) by all-rounder Robbie Frylinck then tipped the scales even further in the Dolphins favour at the contest’s hallway stage.
Smuts, who had been more than handy with his allotment of four overs costing just 23 runs, had other ideas though as he continued to lead from the front, carrying his bat and playing a captain’s innings to remember.
The result leaves the Dolphins in a precarious position as they, with just their clash against bottom-of-the-table Knights at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on Sunday left, are on 15 points, and with much work to do if they are get into the top three positions in order to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Contrastingly, the Cape Cobras and Highveld Lions - currently in third and fourth position - have 17 and 16 points to their name respectively and each enjoy the luxury of an extra game than the Dolphins still to play.